Jul 25, 2010

Virtual Reality Effectively Treats PTSD and Related Disorders: Skip Rizzo's TEDx Talk about promising interdisciplinary work at the Institute for Creative Technologies

Note: Skip's talk begins about 4 minutes into the presentation.

In this TEDx Talk video, Marilyn Flynn, Dean of the University of Southern California's School of Social Work, introduces Skip Rizzo, a research scientist and Co-Director of the VRPSYCH Lab at the USC  Institute of Creative Technologies (ICT).  Skip's research has focused on the use of virtual realty and related technologies for treatment and training purposes.

In this talk,  Skip provides an overview of the interdisciplinary research taking place at the Institute of Creative Technologies (ICT). Skip goes on to explain the urgency of ICT's current work, focusing on the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other problems experienced by people who have sacrificed so much to serve our country in places of wars and conflicts such as Iraq and Afganistan.  Neary one-third of our military personnel are significantly at-risk for developing PTSD or other debilitating conditions that will negatively affect their functioning upon returning home.

Skip goes on to show how the latest VR (Virtual Reality) related technologies and applications combine with with evidence-based intervention and treatment strategies to successfully treat PTSD.  Recent research indicates that 75% of clients treated through 10 sessions of exposure therapy no longer exhibit clinical symptoms of the disorder. Given the numbers of people suffering from PTSD and related disorders, the potential for this treatment method holds promise.

Skip points out that one problem many veterans or their loved ones experience is that they are not aware that effective treatment is available.  Additionally, there are few therapists who are trained in the use of VR as a therapeutic tool.  By working with USC's School of Social Work, this may no longer be the case in the future.  Therapist can learn ways to provide effective evidence-based treatment through interacting with a "virtual human" application that uses an "intelligent" character that simulates the conversational exchanges that are likely to occur during treatment sessions. Additionally, the research behind this effort has resulted in the creation of an on-line system that includes virtual guides that can provide support and guidance to people suffering from PSTD in order to get them to engage in the treatment they require.

Here is information from the Institute of Creative Technologies regarding Skip Rizzo's TEDx USC Talk:
Skip Rizzo's TEDx USC Talk Now Online
"ICT’s Skip Rizzo spoke at this year’s TEDx USC conference and was introduced by Dean Marilyn Flynn of the USC School of Social Work. Video of their talk is now available for viewing on the TEDx Talk’s Channel on YouTube...Of the more than 1.6 million men and women deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, nearly one-third are expected to return with disabling combat stress disorders that may affect some for a lifetime if left untreated.

Through and unlikely marriage of social work and cutting edge technology, the USC Institute for Creative Technologies and the USC School of Social Work are revolutionizing the training methods for a new generation of mental health professionals, shifting the way clinicians learn to interact with their patients."
Introduction: Marilyn Flynn, Dean, USC School of Social Work
Virtual Reality Demonstration: Albert “Skip” Rizzo, Research Scientist, USC Institute for Creative Technologies 

USC Institute for Creative Technologies
"The USC Institute for Creative Technologies brings together high-tech tools + classic storytelling to pioneer new ways to teach + to train."
Virtual Reality & Convergence with Game Technology IMT blogpost, 7/2006
Convergence:  Video Games and Virtual Reality for Special Needs: Autism, ADD, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Social Skills TechPsych blogpost, 8/2006
(I will revisit this and related topics in future posts.)

1 comment:

Amusitronix said...

I'm always happy to see virtual reality technology being used in such a helpful manner. To think that years ago, it was thought of just as another way to play video games